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Bob Duncan 
Executive Director 

While a number of experts 
have written on the 
subject of organizational 
strength, we had only to look 
inside Virginia for some 
homegrown advice from Vir- 
ginia Tech's own Dr. Steve Mc- 
Mullin and his work on the 
characteristics of effective 
state wildlife agencies. I 
would like to share those 
characteristics identified by Dr. McMullin 
and embraced by us as we carry our mis- 
sion forward: 

♦ Be proactive. We will continue to look 
ahead, scanning the horizon for opportu- 
nities as well as challenges. The James 
River fish passage, prohibition of wildlife 
feeding laws, and CWD sampling stations 
are good examples of our commitment to 
doing so. 

♦ Manage according to a biologically- 
based model. The underpinnings of this 
agency were firmly established upon the 
North American Wildlife Conservation 
Model. That model, based in science, di- 
rects an approach that has now been codi- 
fied by law. Our "litmus test" of any man- 
agement decision must always pivot upon 
the answer to the question, "How does 
this affect the resource?" 

♦ Remain close to our constituents. We 
will continue to strive for exemplary cus- 
tomer service — to listen to our customers 
and respond to their needs. Our hunter 
satisfaction survey and recently formed 
advisory committee of conservation lead- 
ers emphasize our commitment to this. 

♦ Gamer strong public sup- 
port. We must never lose 
sight of the need for the pub- 
lic to understand who we are 
and what we do. A clear mis- 
sion must remain at the fore- 
front of our daily actions and 

♦ Maintain our missionary 
zeal. Many of our employees 
consider their job "a calling." 

It has never been about putting in the 
hours, but rather, an extension of who 
they are as people. Their enthusiasm per- 
meates all that we accomplish, and it is 
my honor to allow our staff to do what 
they are so good at doing. 

To this list several points that 
focus on internal operations and 
growth should be noted: secure a sta- 
ble team of respected and knowledge- 
able leaders; encourage our staff to try 
new things and not be afraid of mak- 
ing mistakes; and, demonstrate our 
appreciation of our employees, even in 
small ways, every day. 

Adopting these principles and 
becoming proficient at them will 
mean we are well on our way to 
achieving our full potential as an 
agency, one that is respected by the 
public and our peers. We will then be 
best prepared to protect the wildlife 
resources that we are charged with 
protecting. This strong foundation 
along with our ability to embrace 
change — to remain relevant — are key 
to our future success. 

Mission Statement 

To manage Virginia's wildlife and inland fish to maintain optimum populations of all species to serve the needs of the 
Commonwealth: To provide opportunity for all to enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating and related outdoor recreation and to work 
diligently to safeguard the rights of the people to hunt, fish and harvest game as provided for in the Constitution of Virginia; To 
promote safety for persons and property in connection with boating, hunting and fishing; To provide educational outreach pro- 
grams and materials that foster an awareness of and appreciation for Virginia's fish and wildlife resources, their habitats, and 
hunting, fishing, and boating opportunities. 

Commonwealth of Virginia 
Bob McDonnell, Governor 



Subsidized this publication 

Secretary of Natural Resources 

Douglas W. Domenech 

Department of Game and 
Inland Fisheries 

Bob Duncan 
Executive Director 

Dedicated to tfie Conservation of Virginia's Wildlife and Natural Resources 



Members of the Board 

Ward Burton, Halifax 
Brent Clarke, Fairfax 
Sherry Smith Crumley, Buchanan 
William T. Greer, Jr., Norfolk 
James W. Hazel, Oakton 
Randy J. Kozuch, Alexandria 
John W. Montgomery, Jr., Sandston 
Mary Louisa Pollard, Irvington 
Richard E. Railey, Courtland 
F. Scott Reed, Jr., Manakin-Sabot 
Charles S. Yates, Cleveland 

Magazine Staff 

Sally Mills, Editor 

Lee Walker, Ron Messina, Julia Dixon, 

Contributing Editors 
Emily Pels, Art Director 
Carol Kushlak, Production Manager 
Tom Guess, Staff Contributor 

Color separations and printing by 
Progress Printing, Lynchburg, VA. 

Virginia Wildlife (ISSN 0042 6792) is publish* j 
monthly by the Virginia Department of Game ar , 
Inland Fisheries. Send all subscription orders ar 
address changes to Virginia Wildlife, P. O. Box 747 
Red Oak, Iowa 51591-0477. Address all other cor 
munications concerning this publication to Virgii. 
Wildlife, P. O. Box 11104, 4010 West Broad Strei 
Richmond, Virginia 23230-1104. Subscription rat ) 
are $12.95 for one year, $23.95 for two years; $4,' 
per each back issue, subject to availability. Out-i . 
country rate is $24.95 for one year and must be pa 
in U.S. funds. No refunds for amounts less th. 
$5.00. To subscribe, call toll-free (800) 710-93f 
POSTMASTER: Please send all address changes 
Virginia Wildlife, RO. Box 7477, Red Oak, 
51591-0477. Postage for periodicals pi 
Richmond, Virginia and additional entry oi 

Copyright 2010 by the Virgirua Depar 
Game and Inland Fisheries. All rights reser 

The Department of Game and Inland Fisherie 
afford to all persons an equal access to Depai 
programs and facilities without regard t&'l 
color, religion, national origin, disability', 
age. If you believe that you have been disa 
ed against in any program, activity or fa 
please write to: Virginia Department of Game aif 
Inland Fisheries, ATTN: Compliance Officer, (40. 
West Broad Street.) R O. Box 11104, Ric"- 
Virginia 23230-1104. 

"This publication is intended for general inforrr 
tional purposes only and every effort has be 
made to ensure its accuracy. The information a 
tained herein does not serve as a legal represen 
tion of fish and wildlife laws or regulations. Tji 
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisher • 
does not assume responsibilit)' for any change 
dates, regulations, or information that may occ 
after publication." 


About the cover: 
The .^nerican kestrel, North 
America's smallest and most 
colorful falcon, is shown here 
with a grasshopper in its talons. 
This behavior of targeting prey 
on the ground distinguishes the 
kestrel from other falcons. 
©Maslowski Photo 

The Incredible 
Journey of Hope 

by Curtis J. Badger 
Scientists are learning more about the 
amazing migration of whimbels. 

Traveling With a Dog 

by Clarke C. Jones 
Make your next hunting adventure 
a success for you and your dog. 


For subscriptions, 

circulation problems 

and address changes 



12 issues for $12.95 
24 issues for $23.95 

Jewel of the Potomac 

by Glenda C. Booth 
All sorts of wild critters hang out here — ^just 
beyond the nation's capital. 

Return of the Brookie to 
Lower Stony Creek 

by Bruce Ingram 
Anglers of Giles County have something 
remarkable to smile about. 

Finding Wilderness in 
Virginia's Urban Jungles 

by Cristina Santiestevan 
Wildlife often thrive in urban zip codes, 
if you knov^ where to look. 

Our Smallest Falcon 
Needs Help 

Once a common sight, the American kestrel 
is in decline. 

Off the Leash 
Photo Tips 
On the Water 
Dining In 

. iii»,il'^« ii»l 

by Curtis J. Badger 



rue hope is swift, and flies 
with swallow's wings," 
Shakespeare wrote in King 
Richard III. Today we could amend 
that to say that Hope not only is swift, 
but strong and resilient, and flies with 
whimbrel's wings. 

Our modem Hope would be a bird 
of the marsh and tidal flats, a large 
brown shorebird fond of fiddler crabs, 
a part-time resident of Virginia that 
regularly makes the commonwealth a 
rest stop on an annual journey of as- 
tonishing reach. Hope is a whimbrel, 
so named by biologists in May 2009 
after they trapped her on a tidal marsh 
called Box Tree in Northampton Coun- 
ty. There, fitted with a satellite trans- 
nutter to her back she was released to 
resume a journey that would surprise 
even veteran ornithologists who have 
long been aware that these birds typi- 
cally fly long distances when migrat- 
ing between breeding grounds in the 
north and winter habitat in the tropics. 
Hope was tracked for nearly a year, 
and in April of this year returned to the 
same tidal flat at Box Tree where she 
had been fitted with the transmitter in 
2009, which amazingly was still broad- 
casting a signal. In eleven months she 


had flown from Virginia to Hudson 
Bay in Canada, and from there to the 
Northwest Territories on the Beau- 
fort Sea for the summer. In August 
she returned to Hudson Bay, and 
from Southampton Island flew non- 
stop to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Is- 
lands, where she spent the winter. On 
April 11, 2010 she returned to Box 
Tree, completing a journey of 14,107 
miles. The "Audacity of Hope," in- 

"We knew that whimbrels flew 
long distances, but we had no idea 
they went west to the Northwest Ter- 
ritories," said Fletcher Smith, a re- 
search biologist with the Center for 
Conservation Biology at the College 
of William and Marv. "It was as- 

Whimbrels feed almost exclusively on 
fiddler crabs of the tidal flats. 

sumed in Virginia that the eastern 
birds flew north to the James Bay and 
Hudson Bay breeding grounds. The 
first bird we put a transmitter on flew 
non-stop from Virginia to the North- 
west Territories, which is the breed- 
ing grounds of the western race of 
whimbrels. No scientist would have 
even guessed that the East Coast har- 
bored a percentage of the population 
of the western breeding whimbrels. 
That was a scientific breaktlirough." 

The Center for Conservation Biol- 
ogy began tracking whimbrels in 
2008 in cooperation with Virginia 
Commonwealth University and the 
Virginia chapter of the Nature Con- 
servancy. Six birds were fitted with 
9.5-gram solar powered transmitters, 
and two of them flew to western 
breeding grounds. "This was a com- 
plete surprise," said Smith. "This 
family of curlews is known for flying 
long distances, but no one would 
have guessed East Coast to West 

The study also demonstrated the 
birds' amazing fidelity to migratory 
stopover sites. Hope, tracked for the 
entire migratory cycle, returned to 
the same tidal flat where she had 
been trapped the previous year Her 


journey further reveals the impor- 
tance of the Virginia coast to migrato- 
ry species such as these shorebirds. 
Whimbrels feed almost exclusively 
on fiddler crabs, small crustaceans 
that live on the banks of salt marshes 
and on tidal flats. The down-turned 
bill of the whimbrel is designed to 
probe the burrows of fiddler crabs, 
and the bird is also adept at chasing 
and catching their prey as the crabs 
feed on the flats. 

Much of the Virginia coast is pro- 
tected as national wildlife refuges or 
state natural area preserves, or 
through private conservation efforts 
by The Nature Conservancy — which 
owns about 40,000 acres of barrier is- 
lands and tidal marsh. So fiddler crab 
habitat is protected here in this im- 

portant migratory stopover. What 
worries Smith and other research bi- 
ologists is that the overall population 
of whimbrels Ts down. Since whim- 
brel surveys began on the Virginia 
coast in the mid-1990s, the birds have 
declined in number by 50 percent. 
"Not much has changed on the Vir- 
ginia coast in that time," said Smith, 
"so there probably have been 
changes either on the breeding 
grounds or wintering grounds. There 
has been a steady decline of more 
than three percent per year, and it's 
not a matter of the birds shifting mi- 
gratory range. It is a true decline." 

Whimbrels feed almost exclusive- 
ly on this crab regimen, except when 
they are on breeding grounds in the 
north, where there are no fiddlers. If 

habitat is disturbed on their wiiitering 
grounds in the tropics, and if fiddler 
crab populations fall, whimbrels will 
likewise decline. 

"These birds are' fiddler special- 
ists," said Smith. "The bill is the same 
length and shape as tlie fiddler bur- 
row, so if it's cold and the crabs are not 
foraging, the bird can reach in and get 
it. If the crab is muddy, tlie wlidmbrel 

Whimbrels light up the sky along Virginia's Eastern Shore each May, as the birds make their annual spring migration north. 
This year they continued a flight to the Northwest Territories, Canada. 

AUGUST 2010 5 


Whimbrels are tracked using tiny, 9.5- 
gram transnnitters attached to the 
backs of the birds. The transmitter is 
attached with a Teflon ribbon harness, 
and it is positioned between the wings 
where fat does not accumulate. So if 
the bird loses weight, the harness will 
not become loose. 

Each transmitter is equipped with a 
small solar panel, and it broadcasts a 
signal on a cycle of 5 hours on, 24 hours 
off. The unit recharges during the off 
cycle. During the five hours on, if satel- 
lites are in the correct position the 
transmitter broadcasts a signal which 
is triangulated between them, and the 
position is picked up by a receiver on 
the ground. Battery life is said to be at 
least nine months, but the unit on 
Hope has been functioning for over a 
year. The process is not as precise as a 
Global Positioning System, but it can 
allow researchers to track a bird's posi- 
tion to within about 150 meters, which 
is fine for long-range tracking. 

Hope the Whimbrel 

' Spring Migrafton 2010 
•• Fall migration 2009 
Spring Migration 2009 

The map above shows Hope's non-stop 3,200-mile migration route from the 
Eastern Shore of Virginia to breeding grounds in the MacKenzle River Delta of 
the Northwest Territories of Canada this spring. Also shown are previous migra- 
tion events, Including the non-stop 3,800-mile flight during the fall of 2009 from 
Southampton Island in northern Hudson Bay to St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. 

will take it to the water and rinse it 
off before eating it." 

Whimbrels arrive on the Virginia 
coast in early to late April and de- 

part by early June, so there is a nar- 
row window when all of the birds on 
the Eastern Shore will be leaving. 
Birds that arrive early in the migra- 

Sclentlsts at the Center for Conservation Biology work around the clock to trap, 
weigh, and band the birds during their brief stopover In Northampton County. 


Banded whimbrels are released by enthusiastic researcliers to continue their amazing journey north. 

tion will stay longer, and late arrivals 
will have a briefer stay. While they 
are here, they have one goal, and that 
is to gain weight to fuel the migration 
and begin breeding. Smith and his 
colleagues trap birds, weigh, band, 
and examine them. 

"We caught 23 birds early in the 
season and the mean weight was 330 
grams," Smith reported. "Birds cap- 
tured later in the period, when we 
begin attaching satellite transmitters, 
have a mean weight of 550 grams. So 
the percentage of weight gain is 
tremendous. After a bird has been 
here for three or four weeks feeding 
on crabs, it is very fat. The fiddlers are 
an almost unlimited resource, and 
the birds need them. Whimbrels 
heading to the western breeding 
grounds are facing a flight of more 
than 4,000 miles, which is quite a 

Smith believes that fat put on at 
the staging grounds in Virginia is im- 
portant not only to fuel the trip, but 
to begin breeding activities in the 
north, where the nesting female is 

not free to forage, and where the 
males must be fit to attract a mate. 
"The amount of fat they put on in 
Virginia is extremely important for 
breeding success after they arrive in 
the north," he says. 

To the casual eye it seems an un- 
likely relationship: fiddler crabs for- 
aging on a mud flat, the male waving 
its huge claw as part of a mating ritu- 
al, and then comes a bird that will be 
on the Virginia coast for perhaps 
three or four weeks, its bill the exact 
length and shape of the crab burrow. 
And the birds will feed until they can 
eat no more — a "digestive bottle- 
neck" Smith calls it — and then they 
will be gone, leaving the crabs to 
contend with the resident clapper 
rails and night herons. But on closer 
examination, it all makes sense, as, in 
most of nature, it usually does. D 

Curtis Badger, zoliose most rccoit bool< is A 
Natural History of Quiet Waters (LIVA 
Press), has written widely about natural his- 
tory and wildlife art. He lives on Virginia's 
Eastern Shore. 

The whimbrel's bill is uniquely fitted to 
the burrow of a fiddler crab. 

AUGUST 2010 


4 mU plor>"»^ 3 



lona tjjO/ 




* 'ih 




by Clarke C.Jones 

Pogs have always been there 
for me. They were my child- 
hood friends during those 
lonesome times when, growing up in 
a rural neighborhood, my only other 
companion was my imagination. 
They were a comfort after my father 
taught me as a child that a branch 
from the forsythia bush had uses 
other than in floral arrangements. For 
other people, dogs have been there to 
protect the homestead, tree squirrels, 
chase rabbits, and flush quail. They 
help mend broken hearts and can 
sometimes bring people together. 
Mongrel or pedigree: Once they have 
bonded with you, their loyalty and 
affection seem limitless and, as we 
age, we realize how rare those traits 

Separation anxiety is not just a 
dog trait. More and more people find 
it difficult to leave a dog home when 
taking a vacation or hunting trip. 
Many hotels and B&Bs have recog- 
nized a growing trend of those who 
want to travel with their best friend. 
Thanks to the internet, finding such 
places has been made relatively easy. 
If that is part of your plan this year, 
here are some tips to make traveling 
with your pet easier. 

A Crate is Key 

Planning is the key to any successful 
trip, so make sure your pet is crate 
trained and likes to ride in a 
car — long before you take your dog 
on a vacation or hunting trip. This is 
important for a number of reasons, 
not the least of which is that, while 
hotels may accept pets, most will ex- 
pect your dog to be crated when it is 
left unattended in your room. Imag- 
ine you are the cleaning person who 
opens the door to your suite only to 
have a 90-pound bundle of chocolate 
love come bounding up and plant a 
big kiss on you! 

Some people are put off by that. 

It is also much safer for your pet to 
travel in a crate, because it protects 
your animal from being thrown 

Crate training your dog at a young age will open the doors to Jong-distance hunting 
trips and the possibility of a hotel stay. 

around should your vehicle have to 
make a sudden stop. If you are hunt- 
ing with your dog, more than likely it 
will return wet or muddy. A crate 
helps ensure that other luggage and 
food items stored in your car will not 
be compromised. Your pup shouki 
be trained to loiUingly go into a crate 
at a very early age. Teach it that a 
crate is a place where it may find a 
treat and that a crate is its own secure 
space. If your car does not have room 
for a crate, there are covers designed 
to protect your seats and harnesses 
that will protect your dog. 

Car Travel 

Some dogs are not fond of riding in a 
car. Again, try to get your pup to 
enjoy the experience early on by 
praising and rewarding it when it 
gets into the vehicle. Make your first 

trips in the car short ones that end 
with a pleasant experience — such as a 
walk in the park followed by treats 
when it re-enters the car. If a dog's 
only experience is riding to the vet's 
office or the kennel, it will soon learn 
the car leads only to something un- 
pleasant. You would feel the same 
way if your only car rides as a child 
were to the dentist. Always reinforce 
with praise when your dog behaves 
in a manner you like. It is so simple, 
but it is often overlooked. 

Remember that in summer the 
temperature inside your car can heat 
up rather quickly, even when the win- 
ciows are cracked open. Park in the 
shade and make your stops very short 
ones. If you have to make a stop and 
you are traveling with someone, one 
of you should stay in the car to moni- 
tor the car's temperature. 

AUGUST 2010 

Don't forget the First-Aid kit when pacl<ing up dog food and other necessities. And a little courtesy to staff and other 
guests helps ensure that a hotel remains pet friendly. 

Airplane Travel 

Perhaps you are like a friend of mine. 
Alec Woolfolk from Powhatan, who 
flies with his dogs to faraway hunt- 
ing locations. He notes that advanced 
planning is important and reminded 
me that, "The choice of air carriers 
that will fly a dog are limited...," and, 
"With smaller planes, if the airline 
will take a dog they sometimes are 
limited to one dog in the cargo area of 
each flight." Alec advises that, since 
9/11, you should, "Make sure your 
dog crate is washed and clean before 
the flight." He points out that if you 
have shotgun residue on your dog 
crate from handling spent shells, you 
risk getting unwanted attention by 
TSA officials. 

Poat Travel 

Some people travel with their dogs 
on a boat. If your dog is naturally 
drawn to water, it won't be long be- 
fore you will see it paddling around 
next to you. You had better have a 
plan as to how you are going to get 

your dog back in the boat once it is out 
of it. Putting around with your dog in 
a jonboat on one of Virginia's lakes or 
streams is one thing, but if you are on 
a sailboat of some size in big water, 
you could have a problem. Be aware 
that your dog will require a break pe- 
riodically. You need to do some plan- 
ning ahead of time before you and 
your pooch take to the highways or 
the high seas. Plan for stops along the 
way at 3- to 4-hour intervals or make 
other appropriate arrangements. 

Po Your Homework 

Let's assume your dog is crate 
trained and wants to go with you on 
trips. The next thing that is essential 
to know is something about where 
you will be going. Hunting the rough 
wheat stubble of the Dakotas or the 
rocky terrain of other western states 
is very different from hunting the 
soft, sandy bottomlands of south- 
eastern Virginia. Make sure you take 
along foot and chest protection for 
your dog when hunting these desti- 

nations. Nothing is more disappoint- 
ing than taking a trip far from home, 
only to find your pup foot-sore or 
bloodied and unable to perform for 
the rest of the time because it was not 
prepared for the terrain it had to 

Not only should you know some- 
thing about the terrain where you are 
hunting, know something about what 
else lives in that territory. Keep in 
mind that having your dog perform a 
water retrieve in a quiet pond in Vir- 
ginia is a little different from waters 
found in other southern states, where 
alligators may be looking for an easy 

It is always a good idea to know 
the location of the best veterinarian's 
office when traveling to a particular 
destination. Accidents do happen, 
and there is nothing that adds more 
excitement to a hunting trip than run- 
ning around in a panic trying to find 
a vet when your dog has been in- 
jured. Whether going hunting or on a 
vacation with your pooch, always 
carry a First- Aid kit. Some vets will 



also board your dog if a kennel is not 
nearby or a hotel room is not dog 

Nevertheless, most places that 
board dogs will require up-to-date 
inoculation records of your pet. If 
they do not, you may want to think 
twice about leaving your dog there. 
Even if you are smart enough to fax 
your dog's shot records to the kennel 
or vet ahead of time, it is a good idea 
to carry them with you on your trip. 

Hotel Expectations 

There are a number of websites that 
make finding dog-friendly locations 
much easier. Expect to pay an extra 
fee for allowing your dog in a room. 1 
have found the charge could range 
from zero to as much as seventy-five 
dollars. Because a hotel is listed as 
pet friendly, does not mean there will 
not be a size or weight restriction on 
a dog they will allow in the room. 
You should also remember that just 
because one hotel in a hotel chain is 
pet friendly does not mean every 
hotel in that chain is pet friendly. 
When booking your reservations. 

make those types of inquiries. Poli- 
cies can change with new manage- 

When you stay in a hotel with 
your dog, request a first-floor room 
near an exit. This makes it easier on 
everyone moving the dog crate into 
and out of the room and also accom- 
modates the likely need to go outside 
in the middle of the night. It pays to 
be courteous to the rest of the guests 
and to the people cleaning your 
room. Not every guest is a pet lover 
and wants your dog to give them a 
friendly sniff. Keep tight control over 
your dog when walking through the 
halls or on an elevator of the hotel. 
Bring your own towels with you to 
dry off your dog and wipe its feet 
after you have been hunting or at the 
beach. Don't embarrass yourself or 
your dog by leaving a pile of muddy 
hotel towels lying on the floor for 
someone else to deal with. This only 
raises the extra charge for a dog- 
friendly room for your next visit. 
Brushing your dog before bringing 
into the room also helps keep it com- 
fortable and the room a bit cleaner. 

Final Tips 

Traveling to new 
places with dif- 
ferent landscapes 
and game species 
makes hvmting fim. Losing your best 
frienci is not. Make sure i/oiir dog has a 
collar with your name and phone 
number on it. If there is room for your 
vet's information, add that as well. 
Better yet, have your dog micro- 
chipped with all the pertinent infor- 
mation. Never put your dog's name on 
the collar. If someone steals your dog, 
they now have the dog's name — and 
knowing the dog's name gives some- 
one more control over your dog. 

Pack a leash, your dog's normal 
food supply, plenty of water, and refill- 
able plastic bottles. A collapsible dog 
bowl is a great item to carry along. It 
takes up very little room and is light- 
weight. If you drink bottled water, oc- 
casionally save the plastic bottles and 
their lids. You can refill them in the 
hotel room or service station. And be a 
good neighbor or tourist whenever 
you travel by carrying clean-up bags 
with you. 

Finally, if you are going be doing a 
lot of hard hunting, spend the time to 
get your dog in shape. Nothing is more 
disappointing than to drive for a few 
days to get to that hunting destination 
and find your retriever or bird dog is 
worn out after the first day in the field 
and will need a couple of days of re- 
covery before it can go out again. 

Make a note to get yourself in shape 
as well. Dogs may be man's best friend 
but they are lousy at CPR. D 

Q Clarke C. Jones spends his spare time with his 

S black Labrador retriever, Luke, hunting up good 

s stories. You can visit Clarke and Luke on their 

@ website at innv.clarkccjones.coui. 

AUGUST 2010 

Osprey landing on nesting platform, ©Wilamena Harback 

by GlendaC. Booth 

I wo slaty skimmer drag- 

I onflies zoomed around in 

I figure eight formations, 

perfectly synchronized and fighting 
over the ideal twig from which to en- 
tice a female, ignoring their human 
onlookers. "They zip around like 
fighter jets," said Kevin Munroe, 
manager of Huntley Meadows Park. 
Introducing these dark blue entomo- 
logical wonders of Accotink Bay 
Wildlife Refuge, he invoked an apt 
analogy for nature's whirligigs, flit- 
ting about the shallow waters of one 
of the nation's busiest military instal- 
lations. Accotink Bay Wildlife 
Refuge, at 1,480 acres, sits smack in 
the middle of the U. S. Army's 9,000- 
acre Fort Bel voir — a mere 15 miles 
south of Washington, D.C., on the Po- 
tomac River in Fairfax County. 

The people in the thousands of ve- 
hicles that crawl by Belvoir daily are 
probably not pondering dragonfly 
mating rituals. They are more likely 
wondering what 26,000 civilian and 
military personnel are doing behind 
the guarded gates. Belvoir provides 
"installation support, mobilization 
requirements, military operations, 
and contingency /force protection 
missions," official documents ex- 
plain. It is home to 3 major command 
headquarters and elements of 10 oth- 
ers, over 25 Army agencies, elements 
of the Army Reserve and Army Na- 
tional Guard, many Department of 
Defense (DOD) agencies, a Marine 
Corps detachment, a Navy unit, an 
Air Force aviation support unit, and a 
Department of the Treasury agency. 

"No other Army installation in the 
world can compare to Fort Belvoir 
and its singular mission to provide 
logistical, intelligence, and adminis- 
trative support to such a diverse mix 

of commands, activities, and agen- 
cies," trumpets the website. 

Over time, the post's 1,400 build- 
ings have housed everything from 
daycare centers to fast food restau- 
rants, to chapels, to dental offices and 
an arts and crafts center. Recreational 
offerings include a bowling alley, 
archery range, fitness center, gym, soc- 

Beavers are active throughout the 
wildlife refuge. 



Wetlands at Accotink Bay attract a stunning assortment of birds and waterfowl. 
Over 30 ospreys nested here in 2009. Photo ©Wilamena Harbaci< 

cer fields, indoor pool, and more. But 
today, construction cranes loom as 
heavy trucks rumble through because 
Belvoir is being BRAC'd. In acronym- 
laden "governmentese," BRAC is 
short for base realignment and closing. 
The DOD is "realigning" 19,000 
employees, bringing 3,400 to Belvoir 's 
main post where 26,000 now work. A 

new state-of-the-art, 120-bed hospital 
is rising. Belvoir's transformation is 
bustling to the tune of $4 billion (bil- 
lion), gaining 6.2 million square feet 
of new facilities and seven million 
square feet of new parking spaces, all 
to be completed by September 15, 
2011, as mandated by Congress. 
The dragonflies don't care. 

Fort Belvoir hunting options, iiiLlude archery ^easom for deer and spring gobbler, 
and a waterfowl season in the fall. 

AUGUST 2010 

Belvoir hosts monthly, nature-oriented 
programs for the public subject to size 
restrictions. Refuge managers also 
honor requests from school, college, 
scouting, and other groups. 

All hunters must register with 
Belvoir and qualify with their archery 
tackle before hunting on the post. 
Hunters, both military and non-mili- 
tary, are allowed to hunt the same land 
and can "sign out" any of the approved 
hunting areas. Anglers must have a 
state fishing license and follow all state 
regulations. Two new fishing piers are 
being built. 

Hunting and fishing schedules and 
areas can be restricted if bald eagles 
are nesting or if the activity could 
interfere with military exercises. 

Go here for information: 


The Fairfax family named their 18th- 
century plantation Belvoir, "beautiful 
to see." Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge is 
testament to the name still today. 
Fort Belvoir's managers take 
environmental stewardship seriously. 
According to their master plan, "The 
abundance of natural and cultural 
resources on Fort Belvoir provides an 
unparalleled opportunity for the Army 
to demonstrate how environmentally 
sensitive, planned development can 
enhance mission effectiveness while 
preserving the natural and cultural 

Belvoir's newspaper is "The Eagle." 
Fittingly, the sleek new hospital is 
topped with white wing-like, 
"swooped" roofs, inspired by Belvoir's 
and the nation's symbol— the bald 

F to Visit Accotink 
Bav Wildlife Refuge 

The public must enter Fort Belvoir 
through Tulley Gate from U. S. 1 and 
show a driver's license. There are 
three access points to the refuge: The 
Pohick Loop Trail on the right before 
the Vehicle Processing Center (VPOC); 
the Beaver Pond Trail at the VPOC; and 
the Basin Trail accessed via Warren 
and Swift roads. There's an 11-mile 
trail, parking lots at 3 trailheads, infor- 
mation kiosks, and interpretive signs. 

An OASIS Amid THE din 

Tucked away in this buzz of activity 
is the Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge, a 
relatively unspoiled expanse of de- 
ciduous forests, meadows, tidal wet- 
lands, river, streams, and ponds 
through which thread eight miles of 

Native Americans lived and 
fished here. Colonialists "squatted" 
and, in the process of settling in, de- 
forested the land and depleted the 
soil. Later came farming and timber- 
ing operations, until 1915 when the 
Army launched an engineering 
school which expanded multifold 
throughout the 20th century. 

In 1979, Belvoir's managers set 
aside 460 acres to protect sensitive 
habitats and provide environmental 
education and passive recreation, a 
plot that over time they more than 
tripled in size. Straddling two phys- 
iographic provinces, the Coastal 
Plain and the Piedmont, Belvoir and 
the refuge have 17 native ecological 
community types, including 7 that 
are ranked as uncommon to extreme- 
ly rare. The refuge's shoreline re- 
mains undeveloped. 

A site on DGIF's Birding and 
Wildlife Trail, the refuge supports 300 
bird, 57 fish, 27 amphibian, 32 reptile, 
and 43 mammal species. There are 
several rare plants and at least one 
rare animal species, Stygobromus 
phreatkus, a groundwater amphipod 
that may be endemic to the base. 

The Christmas bird count started 
here in 1911. The first cinnamon teal 
recorded in the state was seen at 
Belvoir in 1998. The river, wetlands, 
and inlets attract hundreds of water- 
fowl, like American black duck, 
Eurasian wigeon, ruddy duck, mer- 
ganser, bufflehead, and black scoter. 
Spring migration brings warblers 
and woodcock displays. Accotink is 
one of the few places in Nortliern Vir- 
ginia to witness migrating shore- 
birds. Over 30 ospreys nested here in 
2009. Bald eagles thrive year-round 
in four "eagle management areas." 

"Eagles love to come down and 
eat coots," quipped John Pilcicki, 
Belvoir's wildlife biologist. 

River otters, beavers, red and gray 
foxes, groundhogs, coyotes, and spot- 
ted red salamanders make their home 
here. And moving at a slower pace, 
spotted, box, painted, musk, and slid- 
er turtles bask. Several species of frogs 
provide a springtime chorus. 

Fifty-seven species of fish have 
been identified, including blue cat- 
fish, yellow perch, striped bass, and 
largemouth bass. 

"Accotink Bay is one of the best 
places for birds, native plants, reptiles, 
and insects in the D. C. area," said 
Munroe. "You'll see things here you 
won't see in all of Fairfax County. It's 
big and not fragmented, at least for 
Northern Virginia." 


The refuge attracts researchers. Dr. 
Peter Marra, a Smithsonian Institu- 
tion senior scientist, is trying to deter- 
mine where wood thrushes that breed 
and raise their young in the refuge 
spend their winters. Accotink has a 

Wildlife watchers may be treated to 
sightings of the elusive river otter. 


"good population of wood thrushes 
and lots of forest," said Marra. Using 
nust nets, his team captures the birds 
in the spring and outfits them with ge- 
olocators that record sunrise and sun- 
set. They then try to recapture the 
birds the next spring and read the data 
to interpret the birds' migration route. 
Marra, whose work is funded by the 
DOD, also studies isotopes — chemi- 
cals that occur naturally in the envi- 
ronment — by sampling birds' feath- 
ers. He hopes to help the Army man- 
age for species conservation. 

Dr. Richard Kraus, a George 
Mason University fish ecologist, is an- 
alyzing water quality and the impact 
of sewage plant discharges on anadro- 
mous fish by surveying plankton and 
the spawning runs of river herring in 
Accotink and Pohick creeks, a project 
with a 25-year history. Kraus is 
pleased with the return of vegetation 
which provide good nursery sites and 
higher fish survival rates. "Sub- 
merged acjuatic vegetation is an indi- 
cator of cleaner water," he explained. 

Wood thrush at Accotink are under 
study to determine their movements 
and migratory behavior. 


Though locals may complain that 
BRAC will bring traffic headaches, 
it could be a boon for the environ- 
ment. "BRAC's been good to me," 

said Natural Resources Branch 
Chief Dorothy Keough, because 
much of the development must be 
mitigated. For example, last year 
Fort Belvoir constructed two stream 
restoration projects totaling 2,700 
linear feet. More projects are under 
design for 2010. Belvoir is also im- 
proving habitat for Partners in 
Flight priority bird species to sup- 
port prairie warbler, field sparrow, 
eastern towhee, and wood thrush. 

Located between county-owned 
Huntley Meadows Park to the north- 
west and Mason Neck State Park and 
National Wildlife Refuge to the 
south, Accotink Bay is a critical link at 
the mid-point of a 15-mile wildlife 
corridor squished between dense 
subdivisions. We must stop manag- 
ing each parcel piecemeal, in isola- 
tion," explained Keough. "We need 
connectivity to have healthy ecosys- 
tems. Today's thinking is better than 
it used to be," she added. 

Invasive plants like kudzu and 
phragmites present a perpetual chal- 
lenge. Anci invasive snakehead fish 
weighing up to 13 pounds have been 

"Two snakeheads fell out of the 
sky," Pilcicki chuckled, explaining 
that overly optimistic ospreys 
dropped them. 

Keeping the refuge healthy re- 
quires focus. "Uses must be com- 
patible with conservation. The cor- 
nerstone of conservation is land 
management," Keough asserted. D 

Giciida Bootli, a freelance writer and legislative 
consultant, grezv up in Sout}nc>est Virginia and 
has lived in Northern Virginia 37 years, where 
she is active in conservation efforts. 

Nets placed in Pohick Creek will capture river herring during their spawning run, 
allowing researchers to assess their overall health. 

AUGUST 2010 

Additional Resources 

Department of Defense (DOD) 

DGIFBirding& Wildlife Trail 

Partners in Flight 

u!iji(Li,iw! mi ^^fmimmim^mmm. 



« ^v'^ 









^»**.;- , ■ '•-<i^-, 


story and photos 
by Bruce Ligram 

To understand the magni- 
tude of how much a section 
of lower Stony Creek in 
Giles County has been transformed, 
consider these three 'snapshots' of the 
304-acre property through which the 
stream flows. 

In 1999, the U.S. Forest Service pur- 
chased the land, which consists of a 
historic two-story lodge, a large barn, 
expansive fields where cattle had long 
grazed, and IV2 miles of Stony Creek. 
Cattle had caused significant erosion 
along the stream; the banks were 
largely barren; the streambed was 
wide and shallow; and because water 

temperatures were 10 degrees higher 
than they were on the national forest 
section of the creek upstream, trout 
were virtually non-existent. 

By the fall of 2007, the property 
now known as the Glen Alton Na- 
tional Forest Recreational Area (lo- 
cated off State Route 635) had 
changed little even though cattle had 
long since been removed. Scant 
streamside flora had returned. But 
that autumn, things began to change 
when the Southeast Aquatic Re- 
source Partnership stepped forward 
with significant financial support. A 
partnership formed among the New 
River Valley Chapter of Trout Unlim- 
ited (TU), the U.S. Forest Service 

The Glen Alton lodge under renovation 
will serve as an environmental educa- 
tion center geared to school children. 



Cattle have been removed, vegetation 
is returning, and mats placed in key 
locations are stabilizing the banks. 

I am amazed at the display of 
songbirds flitting about the creek and 
a riparian zone on the rebotmd. For 
the first time in years in western Vir- 
ginia, I hear a parula warbler and also 
see or hear what birdwatchers call 
good — meaning relatively uncom- 
mon — avians such as cedar wax- 
wings, common yellowthroats, and 
tree swallows. 

Obviously, in a relatively short 
time Stony Creek has undergone a 
tremendous metamorphosis, and the 
story of how it did so is a lesson for us 
all on how to bring a waterway back 
to life. It is a lesson that can, hopeftil- 
ly, be repeated elsewhere in the Old 

^ ^ ^ 

Lowe and Williams are among 
many TU members who helped with 
the restoration and are excited about 
showing me the stream's improve- 
ments, as is Overcash. Our first stop 
is at a row of rootwads lining Stony 

"Joe Williams and Larry Mohn de- 
cided where all in-stream structures 
would go, such as these rootwads," 
notes Overcash of the two fisheries 
biologists. "The DGIF deserves a lot 
of credit for designing the project and 
providing the fishery's expertise. Our 
role at the USPS was to obtain all the 
materials and machinery. 

"Basically, we created a rootwad 
by using a front loader to push over a 
tree, and then cut the tree to about a 
length of 20 feet. Next we jammed the 
20 feet of the tree back into the stream 
bank, leaving only the root system 
exposed. A row of wads helps to sta- 
bilize a bank and prevent erosion, 
cools the water, and also provides 
cover for trout and other aquatic and 
streamside creatures." 

Our next stop is a mat, which is a 
soil stabilization device that is not un- 
like a traditional "welcome" mat in 
thickness, but much longer and 
wider and with many openings. 
Perennial rye grass has been planted 

Todd Lowe checks the progress of a 
vjillow planted to help stabilize the 
bonk and offer shade. 

(USPS), the Department of Game and 
Inland Fisheries (DGIP), and Virginia 
Tech to determine how best to im- 
prove the impaired stream. Up- 
stream, Stony Creek hosts popula- 
tions of native brook trout and those 
involved wondered: Could our state 
fish be returned to the waterway's 
lower reaches? 

Plash-forward to late May of 2009, 
and I am fly-fishing for brook trout 
on the stream, accompanied by TU 
members Dr. Todd Lowe of Radford 
and Howard Williams of Blacksburg 
and wildlife biologist Jesse Overcash 
of the USPS. Williams lands the best 
fish of the day, a chunky 8-inch wild 

Jesse Overcash of USPS points to rootwads placed by DGIF fisheries biologists 
Joe Williams and Larry Mohn which have stabilized the bank, cooled water 
temperatures, and offered trout places to hide. 

AUGUST 2010 


Perennial rye grass planted under mots along the bank helps stabilize the 
shoreline while providing traction for anglers like Howard Williams. 

underneath and is now thickly grow- 
ing in many areas, thus beginning to 
restore the banks and adjacent ripari- 
an zone. 

"I have Parkinson's disease and 
have trouble walking," comments 
Williams. "I couldn't fish Stony be- 
fore the mats were put down because, 
when I would be walking along the 
bank, I would sink into the mud and 
have trouble getting out. The mats 
and the vegetation that has grown 
over them keep me from slipping and 
also protect the bank." 

Willow, red oak, and white ash 
trees also adorn the shoreline, having 
been planted to eventually create a 
canopy to further cool the creek 
water. Enclosures surround the 
young trees to protect against beavers 
and deer, and Overcash points out a 
mature white oak that beavers have 
girdled. It will eventually die. 

Lowe and Williams direct longing 
gazes at the pool with the mat and 
tree enclosures adjacent, and 1 well 
know what they want to do. 

"Go ahead and make a few casts," 
I say. 

Lowe quickly hooks and loses a 
trout, and I realize that they will be 
there for a while. So I ask Overcash to 
show me more handiwork. 

Our next stop is at a lunker struc- 
ture. Since it is under water and only 
partially visible, I have difficulty un- 
derstanding the concept, which 
Overcash explains. Imagine an over- 
turned table on its side with the legs 
pointed toward mid-stream. Then vi- 
sualize long boards placed on the 
legs and, in turn, large rocks posi- 
tioned on those boards. 

"The lunker strvicture is another 
thing that Mohn and Williams rec- 
ommended that would help stabilize 

When cattle were removed from the 
property, native vegetation such as 
skunk cabbage could make a comeback. 

the stream bank, and it has the added 
benefit of trout being able to hold 
under the boards and rocks," Over- 
cash explains. 

All in all, from the time the stream 
restoration began in September of 
2008 until my visit, volunteers have 
placed over 50 various in-stream 
structures in Stony Creek. During the 

The voracious appetite of the gypsy 
moth presents a challenge. 


A wetland trail has been created at Glen Alton to offer close-up views and educate 
visitors about the importance of these wildlife oases. 

fall 2008 semester, Virginia Tech stu- 
dents laid out structures as well, as 
part of a special study course devoted 
to Glen Alton. Ryan McManamay, 
former TU chapter president and cur- 
rent conservation director, taught the 
class, which gave students hands-on 
experience in fisheries restoration — 
including electrofishing population 
surveys, snorkeling studies, and 
stream restoration device design and 

In March of 2009, TU members 
and Tech volunteers working under 
the guidance of the DGIF and USPS 
planted approximately 100 trees over 
five acres of the stream's riparian cor- 

Indeed, the Glen Alton project is 
so impressive that the Virginia Coun- 
cil of TU selected this restoration ac- 
tivity as its best project of 2008. 

"What has been accomplished at 

Glen Alton is a great example of how 
natural resource agencies can work 
with schools and sporting organiza- 
tions to improve wildlife habitat," 
said current TU chapter president 
Todd Lowe. "Fishermen, birdwatch- 
ers, hikers, and wildlife watchers can 
all enjoy themselves here. And we 
have more plans for the future." 

Those plans include planting 
more trees and placing enclosures 
around them to thwart beavers and 
other pests; improving habitat down- 
stream; and dealing with gypsy moth 
infestation. Like other areas in South- 
west, gypsy moths have invaded 
much of Giles County. Jesse Overcash 
believes spraying for the pests may 
have to take place. 

The DGIF will continue to sample 
water temperatures and annually 
look at fish populations through elec- 
tro shocking. 

The USFS is in the process of 
restoring the two-story lodge to serve 
as an environmental education cen- 
ter. Scouts and 4-H clubs will benefit, 
and school groups have made trips to 
Glen Alton. Lesson plans have been 
developed related to erosion, sedi- 
mentation, micro invertebrates, and 
trout. A wetland trail also exists. 

And, of course, TU continues to 
fundraise. Already, some $60,000 in 
cash and in-kind donations have 
been received, including private con- 
tributions and awards from TU's Em- 
brace-a-Stream program. 

^ ^ ^ 

As I prepare to leave, Overcash re- 
marks that Blackburnian warblers, 
hermit thrushes, and black-billed 
cuckoos have made appearances at 
Glen Alton. After a long absence, so 
too has the native brook trout. D 

Bnicc bignvii has authored juaiiy guidebooks, 
iiKiudi)ig his latest: Fly and Spin Fishing for 
River Smallmouths ($19.25). For more infor- 
mation, contact him at 

For More Information 

New River Valley Chapter 
Trout Unlimited: 

Howard Williams holds a native brook 
trout caught while visiting Glen Alton. 

AUGUST 2010 

Finding Wilderness ir] 

^^^ ats, cockroaches, and pi- 
^^^^^ geons. Anyone who be- 
^^ ^^ lieves this is the complete 
list of wildlife one can see in Virginia's 
cities is in for a pleasant surprise. Al- 
though there is no 
substitute for pure 
wilderness, a re- 
markable num- 
ber of animals 

Story by Cristina Saiitiestevan 
illustrations by Spike Knuth 

make their homes in our cities, 
towns, and suburban developments. 
"I can find barred owls near my 
Arlington home," says Cliff Fair- 
weather, naturalist for the Audubon 
Society of Northern Virginia. Else- 
where, Virginia's urban residents can 
expect to see peregrine falcons in 
Richmond (visit www.dgif.virginia. "" 
gov / falconcam to see them for your- 
self), black bears in Fairfax County, 
and coyotes in Virginia Beach. A small 
pond will attract toads, frogs, and 
newts to suburban backyards. 
And, just about any cherished 
plant will bring hungry — and 
likely unwelcome — deer into 
well-tended gardens. 

Fairweather defines urban as 
"a range of built environments 
from urban core to suburban," a 
broad definition that includes re- 
gions across the state, from Northern 
Virginia suburbs to Roanoke and Vir- 
ginia Beach. And, as big as our cities 
are now, they are likely to only grow 
larger in the years to come. "Urban 
natural areas are becoming increas- 
ingly important for biodiversity con- 
servation," says Fairweather. "They 
can harbor surprising amounts of 
biodiversity and they can also pro- 
vide urban populations 
with ready access to 

Cottontail rabbit 

Swallowtail on zinnia 

Visit Wildlife in Virginia's 
Urban Areas 

No matter where you live in Virginia, 
there is sure to be a park or natural 
area nearby. Richmond's James River 
Park, for example, spans 550 acres 
and is home to bald eagles, river ot- 
ters, bullfrogs, and more. All this, in 
the heart of one of Virginia's biggest 
cities. The James River Park is just one 
example of Virginia's wealth of wild 
spaces in our urban and suburban de- 
velopments. Most of the larger cities 
and towns maintain a parks and 
recreation department, and many 
state and national parks are located 
within easy driving distance of our 
cities and towns. 

Finding an urban or suburban 
park near you may be as simple as 
flipping through a few back issues of 
this magazine. In June 2010, for exam- 
ple, Virginia Wildlife ran a profile on a 
park in Hampton Roads, and two 
Northern Virginia parks were recent- 
ly profiled as well. An internet search 



te! iive id! Grow Wild! 

will bring more options, and several 
organizations maintain helpful lists 
of parks and open spaces. 

Invite Wildlife 
into Your Yard 

Welcoming wildlife into your back- 
yard can be as simple as planting a 
native shrub or adding a small water 
feature. Food, water, and shelter are 
the three main ingredients for any 
successful wildlife habitat, no matter 
how small or urban. No yard? A few 
planter boxes and a small bird bath 
are all you need to attract some but- 
terflies and song birds. Choose the 
right flowering plants, and you may 
even be visited by ruby-throated 

Native plants are the best way to 
provide food for wildlife in your 

yard. It's easy to find plants that siiit 
your palette mid attract the animals 
you'd like to welcome. Cheerful pur- 
ple coneflowers, for example, add a 
splash of purple to the garden and 
tempt butterflies with their nectar. 
The mature seeds are also a favorite 
treat of goldfinches. Butterfly weed is 
another great way to attract butter- 
flies, and blueberries, viburnums, 
and dogwoods all invite flocks of 
birds to feed on their bright fruit. 
And— bonus — because nafive plants 
are already adapted to Virginia's cli- 
mate, they require much less care 
than non-native shrubs, flowers, or 
trees. Visit the DGIF website for a list 
of recommended native plants: / habitat / 

A clean and reliable source of 
water can be hard to find in devel- 
oped areas. Adding a small water 
feature — a shallow bird 
bath, for example — may 
actually attract more 
wildlife to your garden 
than all the native 
plants. Birds are not 
the only creatures 
who will appreciate 
it. Squirrels, chip- 
munks, and butter- 
flies will also visit for 
a drink. 

Garden pond 

Barred owl 

A small pond or container water 
garden will attract frogs, toads, and 
newts, and may support a small pop- 
ulation of fish or aquatic native 
plants. DGIF Habitat Education Co- 
ordinator Carol Reiser observed tliat 
during the first year after installing 
her own water feature (only 5'x3'), 
"Green frogs and leopard frogs 
began visiting. Within a few more 


Peregrine falcon 

Helpful Websites 

Falcon Watching 

Visiting Parks and Open Spaces 

• Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail 

• Virginia State Parks 

• National Wildlife Refuges 

• National Park Service 

Creating Habitat 

• DGIF Habitat at Home® 

• National Wildlife Federation 

• Urban Wildlife Sanctuary Program -^ 

• Audubon at Home 

• Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, 
Frog Pond 

years, I was pleasantly surprised to 
see spotted salamanders showing 
up to lay their eggs." 

Shelter is the final necessity for 
any wildlife-friendly yard or garden. 
Food and water will attract visitors, 
but a safe place to sleep and raise ba- 
bies is essential if you want your 
wild neighbors to call your backyard 
home. Native plants are an excellent 
first step here — shrubs and small 
trees are especially well suited for 
many birds that build open nests. 
And a few appropriately sized bird 
houses will provide cavity nesters 
with a home as well. Low-growing 
plants and small cavities offer safe 
hiding places for toads and frogs, 
chipmunks, and other ground- 
dwelling creatures. A broken flower 
pot set on its side is the perfect home 
for a toad, for example. Whatever 
you choose, remember that tradi- 
tional grass-covered lawns really 

offer no shelter for wildlife. 
This is good news for 

,/ anyone who does not 

relish Saturdays 

spent mowing. 




The more wildlife habitat vou add, 
the less lawn you will need to mow. 

Several organizations provide ex- 
cellent tips for creating a wild oasis in 
urban and suburban yards. Check 
out the websites listed for additional 
tips and information. 

Native plants, water, and shelter: 
These are the ingredients for a 
wildlife-friendly backyard. Space is 
less important. Even the smallest 
yard can welcome a surprising vari- 
ety of wildlife. At his townliouse "in 
a pretty urban part of Arlington," 
Fairweather tends a tiny pollinator 
garden and pocket meadow, a de- 
lightful example that nature and 
wildlife can be enjoyed at even the 
smallest of scales. Fairweather's 
mini-meadow is home to "many 
species of bees, butterflies, beetles, 
and various spider and predator in- 
sects," and now grasshoppers. The 
grasshoppers are especially wel- 
come, says Fairweather, who consid- 
ers them an essential resident for any 
meadow. "Now I feel justified calling 
my little plot a meadow." G 

Cristiiia Sauticste-oan writes about wildlife 
and the etroiwnment from her home in 
Virginia 's Blue Ridge Mountains. 

cAet WiW 

Here are three ways to share your appreciation of 
urban-dwelling wildlife: 

1. Summer is a great time for a family visit to some 
of Virginia's urban parks and natural places. You 
may be surprised by the variety of plants and an- 
imals you find. 

2. Create a wildlife-friendly habitat in your own 
backyard. The more structures provided, the 
better. A blend of native food sources, protec- 
tive cover, and water offers the best conditions 
to tempt your wilder neighbors to visit. 

3. Share your wild adventures with your friends 
and family. Children are especially interested in 
learning about the animals and plants that live 
in our cities and neighborhoods. 

Remember that wild animals are wild, no matter 
how urban their address may seem. Watch wildlife 
from a distance and try to avoid disturbing animals 
or their habitats. When in doubt, refer to DGIF's 
tips for responsible wildlife viewing at: 

Far right, goldfinch on 
cone flowers 
Right, American toad 
in flower pot 

AUGUST 2010 

American kestrel 

numbers are cause 

for concern. 


Walking along a power line not far 
from the Blue Ridge Parkway, I spot 
a distant silhouette of a bird with a 
long tail, perched on a telephone wire. Ap- 
proaching closer, I see it is a juvenile American 
kestrel. Soon another kestrel appears and joins 
the first one on the wire. I'm guessing they are 
siblings from the same brood. Suddenly, the 
first bird goes into a dive and pounces on some- 
thing in the grass much like a fox would be- 
have. The second kestrel follows and there is a 
flurry of activity, but I can't see what is happen- 
ing. They could be going after real prey or just 
"playing." Young kestrels often engage in mock 
behavior to help them prepare for hunting and 
staying alive in the real world. Minutes later, 
the pair flies off and disappears from view. 

The American kestrel is North America's 
smallest and most colorful falcon and one of the 
most abundant in Virginia. They are commonly 
seen perched on telephone wires, where they 
are frequently mistaken for mourning doves. 
These streamlined birds have a nimble, buoy- 
ant flight and are capable of hovering on rapid- 
ly beating wings when they spot prey on the 
ground. Unlike other falcons, the kestrel often 
catches grasshoppers, crickets, lizards, mice, 
and voles on the ground. At other times, they 
pursue and catch their prey on the wing. 
Called sparrow hawks when I was grow- 
ing up, kestrels occasionally prey on 
sparrows and other small birds, 
especially in winter when 
other food is scarce. 

6?uS H©lp 


, V 

Kestrels take advantage of natural tree cavities to nest or, in tills case, dine on their prey. 

©Maslowski Photo 

Kestrel Facts 

An ecologically versatile species, 
kestrels can be found anywhere there 
is sufficient food and raised perches 
from which to scout their next meal. 
Though kestrels are found in urban 
areas, generally they are a bird of the 
open countryside. Their piercing 
killy-killy-kiUy rings out across fields. 

meadows, and woodland edges 
where thev hunt in the short vegeta- 
tion. The\' nest in natural tree cavi- 
ties, in abandoned woodpecker 
holes, in depressions in a bank or cliff, 
and in the eaves of buildings. Despite 
the size difference, kestrels success- 
fully defend their territory against 
larger raptors such as Cooper's 
hawks, red-tailed hawks. Northern 
goshawks, and barn owls. However, 
thev have often appeared in the 
stomachs of those birds! 

This robin-sized bird is easily dis- 
tingviished in flight by its small size, 
long tail, and pointed wings — a com- 
bination that makes it an agile flyer. 
The kestrel is 10 to 12 inches in length, 
with a wingspan of 21 inches. Other 
behavior clues include hovering 
while hunting, tail pumping while 
perching, and head-bobbing, which 
is thought to help it judge the dis- 
tance to percei\'ed prey. The male's 
slate-blue wings and rufous back and 
tail make him more colorful than the 

female. Her plumage is a dull brown 
and a less striking blue-gray. Both 
sexes have a mustached black-and- 
white face pattern. Dark spots to- 
ward the back of the head, resem- 
bling "eye spots," might serve to 
deter attacks from predators by con- 
fusing or startling tliem. (Similar eye 
spots on some butterflies and cater- 
pillars are thought to serve the same 

In addition to being the smallest, 
the American kestrel is also the most 
widespread of North Americaii fal- 
cons, occvirring throughout most of 
North America. In Virginia, where 
winters are mild, kestrels remain 
year-round, while those breeding far- 
ther north may migrate to southwest- 
ern Texas and southern Florida. 
Some continue on to Mexico and 
even as far as South America. Every 
fall, heavy concentrations of kestrels 
use the Appalachian ridge tops as a 
migration corridor to the winter des- 





^^T^^ ETT 



/\ beautiful bird, the American kestrel often captures its prey on the ground, 
as shown here. 

COMaslowski Photo 

Concern Over Future 

Despite the fact that the kestrel is one 
of our most common raptors, red 
flags of concern are emerging. In re- 
cent years, migration counts reveal a 
significant decline in falcon popula- 
tions in the Northeast and Mid-At- 
lantic. Autumn migration "hawk- 
watch" counts in Cape May, New Jer- 
sey, are down more than 40 percent 
below the 30-year site average for the 
bird. Similarly, counts at Hawk 
Mountain, Pennsylvania, during the 
same time span are down 30 percent. 
But even more troubling are the pre- 
cipitous annual drops occurring over 
the last decade: 9.2% at Lighthouse 
Point, Connecticut; 4.5% at Cape 
May; 4.8% at Hawk Mountain; and a 
staggering 11.3% annual decrease in 
spring counts at Fort Smallwood, 

Dr. Chris Farmer, a senior research 
biologist at Hawk Mountain Sanctu- 
ary in Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania, 


has been studying kestrels for years 
and is concerned about the recent 
drop in numbers. "To put this into 
perspective, if these rates of decline 
continue, they will lead to a 50 per- 
cent decrease in kestrel counts in 8 
years at Lighthouse Point, 15 years 
at Cape May, 14 years at Hawk 
Mountain, and 6 years at Fort Small- 

Rarely does just one factor cause 
such a decline. In the last few 
decades, open areas used by kestrels 
for foraging have been developed or 
returned to forest, resulting in less 
available habitat, not only for the 
kestrel, but also for other "open 
country" birds such as the Eastern 
towhee, another species in decline in 
Virginia. As habitat is lost, so are the 
dead trees, or snags, that provide 
nesting cavities for secondary cavi- 
ty-dwellers like kestrels and a host of 
other birds and mammals that use 
abandoned woodpecker nesting 
holes. Increased predation by the 

Kestrels will nest in artificial boxes; 
consider installing before their return 
to Virginia in March. 


larger Cooper's hawk, a chief preda- 
tor of the kestrel and a species whose 
populations are rising, is also thought 
to be a factor. 

Farmer says pesticides can be 
added to the list of possible suspects. 
Although there is no evidence of a 
current widespread contamination of 
kestrels from pesticides, there is also 
no intensive surveillance for such 
contamination. Kestrels are associat- 
ed with the agricultural landscape 
and, along with hawks and owls, can 
become poisoned by eating mice and 
other animals that have been ex- 
posed to such chemicals. "Although 
we don't know the extent of the harm 
they pose to kestrels, we know that 
pesticides are widely used and 
kestrels are coming into contact with 
them." Farmer has seen two cases re- 
cently of kestrels poisoned by pesti- 
cides. Because the carcasses are rela- 
tively small and therefore unlikely to 
be found, he wonders how many oth- 
ers have died or suffered reproduc- 

tive failure from toxic substances 
used on lawns and crops. 

Lend a Helping Hand 

Just as conservationists helped the 
Eastern bluebird make a remarkable 
comeback, artificial nest boxes can 
help to replace the disappearing, nat- 
ural cavities used by kestrels. For di- 
rections on how to make a nest box 
and other ways to make your proper- 
ty attractive to kestrels, see the side- 
bar below. 

As habitat is lost, so are the 
dead trees, or snags, that 
provide nesting cavities for 
"secondary cavity-dweliers " 
like kestrels and a host of 
other birds and mammals 
that use abandoned wood- 
pecker nesting holes. 

Beyond the good feeling of help- 
ing out a declining species, there's 
another reason to lend a hand to the 
kestrel. Because of its penchant for 
feasting on crop pests like grasshop- 
pers, beetles, caterpillars, anci moths, 
this little falcon is a valuable ally to 
gardeners and farmers. Anci having 
it around is a sign of environmental 
health: As a top-of-the-food-chain 
predator, the kestrel's presence indi- 
cates that the insects, amphibians, 
and small birds that it needs are plen- 
tiful and pesticide use, probably low. 

Although the kestrel faces daunt- 
ing challenges, the distress call has 
been heeded early. We can take ac- 
tion to maintain this beautiful 
species as one of our most comnion 
North American raptors and is a val- 
ued member of Virginia's native 
wildlife. D 

Jo Ann Abell 1ms written extcnsiveh/ about 
nature for the past 20 years and ean be reached 
at ioannabell2@conicast.nct. 

©Maslowski Photo 

Maintain large, pesticide-free, open areas with herbaceous 
vegetation no more than a few inches tall to provide good 
foraging habitat. 

Leave snags for woodpeckers to drill their nest holes and pro- 
vide future nesting cavities for kestrels. 

Before you decide to use a pesticide, consult the Department's 
fact sheet: 
infosheets/wildife-and-pesticides.asp. Also check out Beyond 
Pesticides (, a non-profit that 
offers a wealth of information on pesticides, their effects on 
humans and the environment, and safer treatment 

Install an artificial nest box to a tree trunk, pole, or barn eave. 
By March, before kestrels return to begin establishing nesting 
territories, install the nest box at least 12 feet off the ground 
in an area with an acre or more of open habitat 
away from songbird feeders. Keep in mind that kestrels 
are sensitive to disturbances early in the nesting cycle, so 
watch for signs of activity at the nest box from a distance. 
Directions for building can be found on the West Virginia 
Naturalist Outdoors website: http;// 


2010 Outdoor 
Calendar of Events 

Unless otherwise noted, for current infor- 
mation and registration on workshops go 
to the "Upcoming Events" page on our 
website at or call 

August 10: Flat Out Catfish 11, Pony 
Pasture, James River, Richmond. 

August 12, 14, 19, 21 & 24: An Intro- 
duction to Photographing Butterflies 
and Other Cool Bugs, with Lynda 
Richardson at Lewis Ginter Botanical 
Garden. Call (804) 262-9887 X322 or 
go to or 

August 13-15: Virginia Outdoor 
Sportsnian Show, Richmond; 

August 20-22: Mother-Daughter 
Outdoors Weekend, Holiday Lake4-H 
Center, Appomattox. 

August 25, September 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, 

October 6, 13: TJw Photo Essai/-How to 
Tell a Story hi Pictures with Lynda 
Richardson at UR's School of Contin- 
uing Studies. Go to www.lynda or go to and look 
under Personal Enrichment and then 
Film & Photography. 

August 28: Jakes Event, Page Valley 
Sportsman's Club; contact Art 
Kasson at (540) 622-6103 or 

September 9, 11, 16, 18, 21: 

Photograplhng Colors, Patterns & 
Textures with Lynda Richardson at 
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. 
Go to or 
photographycom or call 

September 11-12: Eastern Regional 
Big Game Contest, 

September 25: Youth Deer Hunting 
Day, (ages 15 and younger). 

September 25-26: Western Regional 
Big Game Contest and State 
Championship, v*rww.iw\ 

October 7-10: Eastern Shore Birding 
and Wildlife Festival, Cape Charles. 

October 16: Youth Fall Turkey Hunt 
Day, (ages 15 and younger). 

Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp 

Expires June 30, 2011 

The 2010 Duck Stamp featuring 
artwork by Guy Crittenden is now 

A new, South Holston Reservoir fishing license became available in July, allowing 
the holder to fish both Virginia and Tennessee waters. The special $21 permit is 
valid for one year from purchase date, but does not cover trout. 

Quail Action Plan 

Department staff are working with a broad range of public and private partners to 
restore critical upland habitat needed by the bobwhite quail to thrive. Annong the 
many initiatives underway are: 

• Establishment of early succession wildlife focus areas across the state, in concert 
with the work performed by Soil & Water Conservation Districts in Virginia; 

• Wildlife professionals assisting with delivery of USDA Farm Bill programs to 
landowners that benefit quail and other, early succession wildlife species; and 

• Establishment of demonstration areas that showcase technical tools put in 
place to effectively manage for quail. 

For nnore information about the quail plan, go to: 


To contact a private lands wildlife biologist: 



by Beth Hester 

A Game Warden's Field Notes III 

by Jon Ober 

2009 Mariner Publishing / 


Soft cover with black & white illustrations 


"I've looked at being a Virginia Game 
Warden as a privilege, a fidfilling tradition 
begun in 1916. Relatively few men and 
women have done what we do now, work- 
ing for the public, and for the wildlife in 
our state while putting our lives on the line 
to protect our natural resources...! fully 
realize and appreciate the opportunity we 
have as conservation officers to be working 
outside in the elements. We get to work in 
places that many people wait all year to 
visit. " 

-Jon Ober 

Jon Ober has been a Virginia game 
warden, or conservation police otficer 
as they are now called, for over twen- 
ty-four years, and he considers his oc- 
cupation to be more than just a way to 
earn a paycheck. Being a conservation 
police officer (CPO) is a way of life. He 
knows firsthand that you can tell an 
awful lot about a person by the way 
they behave when they think no one is 
watching, and during Ober's tenure 
with the Department, he has been 
privy to the best and the worst behav- 
ior that denizens of Virginia's wild 
places have to offer 

This new book gathers the best 
stories from Ober's first two volumes, 
plus all-new experiences from his own 
journals. These honest, true-life ad- 
venture stories and personal reflec- 
tions are by turns funny, poignant, and 
sometimes hair-raising. They also 
make for an honest, and mighty fine 

Ober knows how to tell a tale, and 
without extraneous embellishment 
the reader feels as if he or she were 

right behind him, navigating 
tlirough difficult terrain, hard on the 
heels of some duck poacher, inebriat- 
ed deer hunter, trespasser, or other 
flagrant scofflaw. The stories seem so 
real that you can almost hear the omi- 
nous, heart-pounding strains of 
Mancini's theme song from Peter 
Gunn playing in the background. As 
a bonus, throughout the book Ober 
inserts well-placed nuggets of hunt- 
ing history and ethical asides without 
seeming either preachy or didactic. 

Apart from the excellent enter- 
tainment value of these personal 
narratives, there are also interesting 
behind-the-scenes glimpses of how 
CPOs train to be mentally and phys- 
ically prepared to face the unexpect- 
ed. After all, as Ober writes: "Most of 
the time game wardens are working 
by themselves in remote areas, in 
close proximity to armed people 
who may not want them around." 

So the next time you roll up on a 
conservation police officer, make 
sure to shake his or her hand and 
thank them for a job well done. After 
reading this book, you'll better un- 
derstand what motivates these 
guardians of Virginia's wild places. 
In working to protect our precious 
natural resources, they sometimes, 
collaterally, help to protect us from 
ourselves. □ 

Hunter Skills Weekend 

The Virginia Hunter Education Asso- 
ciation, in conjunction with Holiday 
Lake 4-H Educational Center and the 
Department of Game and Inland 
Fisheries Hunter Education Pro- 
gram, conducted a Hunter Skills 
Weekend for the public on May 14- 
16, 2010. The event was filled to ca- 
pacity with 96 participants, who 
learned techniques needed to be safe 
and proficient while hunting. The 
weekend was designed to help 
"bridge the gap" between the basic 
hunter education course and actually 
getting out into the field to hunt. 

As one participant in the tree 
stand class stated, "1 thought I was 
safe and doing things correct, but I 
was not and learned so many new, 
proper ways to be safe in the stand." 

A parent said of the rifle class, "I 

liked the way the instructors taught 
safety. Hope my son remembers 
everytHng. They were great." 

One young particpant in the 
turkey hunting class summed up the 
weekend, "It was AWESOME!!!" 

The second Hunter Skills Week- 
end will be held at Holiday Lake 4-H 
Educational Center on October 1-3, 
2010. Anyone interested in partici- 
pating should contact the 4-H Center 
by phone at 434-248-5444 or visit 
their website at http:/ /holiday D 

Long-time hunter education instructor 
Danny Bartee monitors a student for safe- 
ty and proper technique during the shot- 
gun class at the Hunter Skills Weekend. 


"My goodness, George, lei him 
have it. It's only a worm." 

AUGUST 2010 


We are pleased to sliare here the 

zviimiiig essai/ in the VOWA 

2009 Youth Writhig Competition, 

High School Division. 

Phragmites Australis 

by Grace A. Perkins 

Pliraginites australis. I could hardly 
pronounce it, and I knew I did not 
want to spend my summer vacation 
studying it. However, the Chesa- 
peake Bay Governor's School for 
Marine and Environmental Science 
requires a two-year investigative 
project. Having learned to curse P. 
australis' very existence in class, I 
decided a relevant, yet simple study 
would be a comparison of the effects 
of this invasive, non-native marsh 
grass versus those of a native grass 
on the fish populations of a Chesa- 
peake Bay salt marsh. 

My first mistake was believing 
this would be a leisurely undertak- 
ing. Field studies are intense, espe- 
cially those dealing with tides. The 
second mistake was choosing a site 
forty minutes from my house. Tide 
cycles must be Mother Nature's 
practical joke. To cast my seine nets 
at low tide, I rose before sunrise and 
reached the marsh by daybreak. 
Then I returned home and, six hours 
later, drove back to the marsh to pull 
in the nets. While my classmates 
woke up at noon, loaded the toaster 
with Pop-Tarts, and logged onto 

Facebook, I was in my maroon pick- 
up truck, dressed in an old t-shirt, 
shorts, and water shoes (the ugliest 
article of clothing ever invented) on 
my way to wade in cold, brackish 
water. Despite weeks of sinking up 
to my knees in the darkest, slimiest 
mud imaginable, slapping at mos- 
quitoes, and watching out for spi- 
ders and cottonmouths, I repeatedly 
reeled in empty nets in the P. australis 
marsh. It was disheartening, but I 
redesigned my experiment and it has 
since produced meaningful results. 

This summer, I learned firsthand 
how P. australis can devastate a 
marsh. As importantly, however, I 
experienced the Chesapeake Bay in a 
new way. Although I have grown up 
in a small, rural area where many of 
my classmates' families depend on 
the menhaden and oyster industries, 
I only knew the bay through tubing 
and jet-skiing. For ten years, I have 
lived a short distance from the 
waterfront, but until this summer, I 
had never experienced its natural 
rhythms and beauty. 

I can now say I have watched the 
pinks and oranges of the rising sun 
paint the sky over Rockhole Creek. I 
have cast a net in cool water up to 
my ankles and caught marsh killifish 
and fiddler crabs. A blue heron has 
shared the mornings with me and, at 
the time, we seemed like the only liv- 
ing things in the world. I have driv- 
en with the windows down, salt air 
blowing my hair around, and big 


Congratulations to Andrew Gionfriddo, 11, 
for his first turkey taken on Youth Day 
2010. Andrew shot the bird at 27 yards as 
his father sat next to him and his Uncle 
John sat 40 yards behind and called. The 
gobbler weighed 19.5 pounds, had a 10" 
beard and 1 " spurs that were surprisingly 
sharp. The bird was harvested in Loudoun 
County on private property. While Virginia 
residents, Andrew and his family currently 
live in London, England. His family had de- 
cided to visit family over the Easter break, 
in no small part due to the Youth Day hunt 
during that time. The turkey was way bet- 
ter than any Easter bunny I 

band music from the only available 
radio station turned all the way up. I 
felt infinite, like I was a part of some- 
thing larger than myself. 

This project taught me that sci- 
ence is not always the neat, con- 
trolled lab experiments conducted in 
school. It can involve hard, even 
smelly, work. Experiments may 
require revision or redesign, and 
they do not always produce the 
intended results. These unlooked-for 
findings can lead to new ideas and 
experiences. Sometimes, unexpected 
results become the most important 
lessons of all. Zj 

Congratulations to Grace Perkins, who 
recently graduated from Lancaster High 
School in Wliite Stone and is headed to The 
College of William & Mary as a Mo7iroe 
Scholar this fall. The annual Youth Writing 
Competition is sponsored by the Virginia 
Outdoor Writers Association, Inc. 

II hunters who plan to hunt doves, 
waterfowl, rails, woodcock, snipe, 
coots, gallinules, or moorhens in Virginia 
must be registered with the Virginia 
Harvest Information Program (HIP). 
HIP is required each year and a new reg- 
istration number is needed for the 
20 1 0-20 1 I hunting season. To obtain a 
new HIP number, register online at 
w^^.ViUlIP.coin or call I -888-788-9772. 
In addition, to hunt waterfowl in 
Virginia hunters must obtain a Federal 
Duck Stamp and the Virginia Migratory 
Waterfowl Conservation Stamp. The 
annual Migratory Waterfowl Conserva- 
tion Stamp can be purchased for $ 1 0.00 
(resident or non-resident) from VDGIF 
license agents or from the Depart- 
ment's website. To request collector 
stamps and prints, contact Mike Hinton 
by email at 


Jn the April 2010 Off the Leash col- 
umn, the nice editor chose to pub- 
lish some of your questions about dogs 
that can spell, hunting and falling from 
trees, and shooting vs. ballet lessons. 
Although I answered as best as I could, 
it seems some of you have been left 
with more questions than answers 
about a great number of things. As al- 
ways, I am here to help out. 

Dear Luke, 

When is the best time to introduce my 

retriever puppy to water retrieves? 

Mike T., Wakefield 

Dear Mike, 

Always try to make anything you intro- 
duce to your pup a positive experience. 
If you get your pup in the dead of win- 
ter, wait until the weather and — more 
importantly — tJie water is WARM. One 
way to introduce your pup to water is 
by taking the training dummy you are 
using on land and tossing it about 
ankle-deep (the dog's ankle) into the 
water. If you have an enthusiastic re- 
triever, he will probably go right to the 
dummy and bring it back. Give lots of 
praise. Then throw the dummy in chest- 
high water (the dog's chest) and gradu- 
ally increase the depth. Give lots of 
praise. Stay close to the water's edge just 
to reassure your pup when he has to 
start swimming. Do not overdo this in 
the beginning and, if your pup is some- 
what reluctant, be patient. 1 know you 
humans have been "in over your 
heads" in many areas and not once did 
you find it pleasant. Once your retriev- 
er has gained confidence in his swim- 
ming ability, you won't be able to keep 
him out of the water. 

Dear Luke, 

I have a new golden retriever puppy. 
I want to socialize her with other peo- 
ple but I work long hours and do not 
have a lot of time to spend with her 
when there are a lot of folks around. 
How can I get her used to people? 

Lindsey S., Manakin-Sabot 

Dear Lindsey, 

While the weather is still cool, take your 
puppy in the car to the nearest grocery 
store when you have to do a little shop- 
ping. Station yourselves in sight of the 
foot traffic going into the store. Make 
sure you do not stand so close to the 
store as to invite a crowd that will want 
to pet your pup. Your puppy could be- 
come overwhelmed with a lot of un- 
wanted hands coming at it from all di- 
rections. Have your pup sit at your side 
and give her the command to stay 
while you have her on lead. If she 
barks or wants to go toward people en- 
tering the store, correct her. If she re- 
mains sitting, give her a treat and praise 
her. Then walk past the store entrance a 
few times while she is still on her leash 
and have her sit again. Give her a treat 
and praise. After completing that exer- 
cise a few times, pick up your puppy, 
walk closer to the store entrance, and 
stand there for a bit. Nothing draws 
people like a puppy and some folks will 
want a closer look. By holding your 
puppy, she will feel more secure when 
those people want to have a closer look. 
This form of training does a number of 
things. It helps socialize your dog; it 
helps i/ou practice your sit, stay, and 
heel commands; and if done correctly, it 
will reinforce the idea to your pup that 
riding in a car can be a good thing. 

Dear Luke, 

My pup (8 months old) is very friendly, 
but sometimes he is hard to control and 
sometimes tries to pull me instead of 
walk with me. He also has a tendency 
to bolt when I let him out of the car. 
What should I do? 

Walter S., Amherst 
Dear Walter, 

There are several leads and harnesses on 
the market that restrict a dog's pulling 
and offer you greater control when 
walking together. If you and your dog 
have not enrolled in an obedience class, 
do so right away. Your pup may tliink he 
is the one who makes the n.iles, and that 
notion should be corrected immediately. 
Some exuberance in a pup is to be ex- 
pected but, unless checked, it can get out 
of hand anci cause injury. Teach your 
dog tiie "WAIT" command and enforce 
it every time the two of you go through a 
door or down steps, or when opening a 
car door to let him in or out. Your dog 
must learn he does iiot go anywhere 
with you imless you say so. The sooner he 
learns who's in charge, the better off you 
both will be! 

I hope these small training tips have 
been helpful in building a safer and 
stronger relationship with your dog. I 
have learned tliat dog-human relation- 
ships are very similar to human-human 
relationships. There is always one per- 
son who thinks he is in control, and there 
is another person who hiows he is not! 

Keep a leg up, Luke 

Luke is a black Labrador retriever icho spends !iis 
spare time hunting up good stories with best 
friend Clarke C. Jones. You can contact Luke and 
Clarke at 


Bound Copies of Virginia Wildlife 

Magazine Annual Editions 

from 1 990 through 2009 

Are Available in Limited Supply 

$26.75 per edition (includes S/H) 

Pay by Check Only to : Treasurer of Virginia 

Mail to : Virginia Wildlife Magazine 

P.O.Box III04. Richmond, VA 23230-1104 

Include your full name, daytime phone, and 

USPS shipping address. Reference Item No. 

VW-230 and the year(s) you are purchasing. 

Please allow 3 weeks for receipt of order. 

AUGUST 2010 

by Lynda Richardson 

Telling a Story with Pictures 

5 hooting fabulous wildlife 
photographs can be challeng- 
ing and fun, but have you ever 
thought about going beyond the 
single image? What I'm talking 
about are photo-essays, also 
known as picture stories. 

By comparison, an individual 
photograph is very easy to capture. 
When I first started out as a profes- 
sional photographer, an editor at 
National Geographic commented on 
my portfolio, saying, "Any week- 
end photographer can capture a 
stunning collection of photo- 
graphs. It is the one who can tell an 
engaging story with great imagery 
that I'm looking for. I want to see 
picture stories from you!" 

It was advice that I gratefully 
received and have used ever since. 

Take a look at magazines like 
National Geographic, Smithsonian, 
and this one. These publications 
specialize in stories that are accom- 
panied by photographs. As you 
flip through a magazine, what 
catches your eye? The photos, 
right? And what makes you want 
to read the story? The topic, of 
course, but the photographs play a 
key role in drawing you into the 
text. ... or at least they should! 

Now how does one shoot a 
photo-essay? First, choose a topic 
that means something to you. 
Then, research the heck out of it. 
And finally, shoot it from your 
heart! Use every lens you own 
(and even borrow some). Shoot at 
different times of the day and 
under different lighting conditions 
and at different angles. Use flash 
and any other techniques that you 
feel will add interest to the final 
photographs. Be sure to shoot 
scene setters (also called openers), 
as well as images that capture de- 
tails, principal characters, climac- 

While on assignment for Smittisonian, I captured 
this detail shot of a Venus flytrap with a decom- 
posing spider in Its maw for a photo-essay about 
the Insect. © 2010 Lynda Richardson 

mrnwjjOifmm imnm 

Congratulations go to Richard Cox ofBumpassfor 
his very sharp and close up photograph of a red- 
bellied woodpecker visiting a suet feeder. Canon 
EOS 40D digital camera, Canon 300mmL IS lens 
with a Canon 1.4X, ISO 400, 1/I250th,f5.6. Great 
shot, Richard! 

tic moments, and a great ending. In- 
clude action shots as well as the 
obligatory "point pictures," which 
are necessary for the story but not 
always that exciting. 

Photo-essays can be very power- 
ful. In recent years, many organiza- 
tions and individual photogra- 
phers have used photo-essays to 
further their causes. The Interna- 
tional League of Conservation Pho- 
tographers (ILCP) and the North 
American Nature Photography As- 
sociation (NANPA) have encour- 
aged members to participate in var- 
ious story-telling projects around 
the world. Whether trying to bring 
attention to an endangered species 
in Africa or an environmental issue 
in their own backyard, these pas- 
sionate photographers have taken 
on photographic essays that have 
made a difference. 

If you want to broaden your pho- 
tographic skills, try shooting a 
photo-essay. If you're lucky, maybe 
you can make a difference too. 
Good luck and happy shooting! n 

* ^ * 

For more information on ILCP check 
out; for NANPA, 
check out 

You are invited to submit one to five of 
your best photographs to "Image of the 
IVionth," Virginia Wildlife IVIagazine, P.O. 
Box 11104, 4010 West Broad Street, Rich- 
mond, VA 23230-1104. Send original 
slides, super high-quality prints, or high-res 
jpeg, tiff, or raw files on a disk and include a 
self-addressed, stamped envelope or 
other shipping method for return. Also, 
please include any pertinent information 
regarding how and where you captured 
the image and what camera and settings 
you used, along with your phone number. 
We look forward to seeing and sharing 
your work with our readers. 




%-j %^ 

by Tom Guess 

In the Eye of a Whale 

Marine mammals like whales 
and dolphins, and the ocas- 
sional harbor seal or manatee, fre- 
quent the coastal waters of Virginia. I 
try to remember that this was their 
home first and we are simply visitors 
they have to tolerate. 

About seven years into my long 
career with the U.S. Coast Guard I 
had an awesome encounter that 
deepened my appreciation for ma- 
rine mammals and gave me a new re- 
spect for these unique creatures. It 
was summertime and I was stationed 
on board the Coast Guard Cutter, 
Mustang, home ported in Seward, 
Alaska. We were on a patrol in the 
Prince William Sound and anchored 
in a cove one Sunday morning when 
I was tasked with doing a small boat 
patrol from the ship to see if there 
were any fishing vessels in the area. 
Our small boat was a 5-meter (16.4- 
foot) rigid hull inflatable boat. 

George, a kid from Arkansas, 
and I were just tooling around at 
clutch speed in a small body of water 
in a mountain pass, watching some 
Orca whales in the distance. Sudden- 
ly I had one of those strange feelings 
that caused the hair on the back of my 
neck to stand up. So, as I always did 
while on a boat when I had that feel- 
ing, I put the engine in neutral and 
started to drift a bit to survey the area 
around me. I caught something out 
of the comer of my eye deep in the 
water and looked toward the back 
quarter of the boat when, suddenly, 
three gigantic Orcas emerged strad- 
dling our boat — two on one side and 
one on the other. 1 recall that the pair 
was a bit smaller than the single one, 
but they all dwarfed our boat by 8 to 
10 feet! 

As they surfaced, one spouted 
and sprayed us with frigid Alaskan 
water. It seemed it was a gesture to 
notify us of their presence and maybe 
to poke fun at us a bit in our little or- 
ange boat on their turf. They slowly 
lumbered beside us for what seemed 
an eternity and expertly matched 
their pace to the boat's drift. Soon 
after, the biggest Orca rolled slightly 
to the side to get a good look at us. 
According to Sea World, killer whales 
have acute vision both in and out of 
the water. 

It was at the moment I stared an 
Orca in the eye that I realized I wasn't 
only looking at a whale; I was being 
handed the privilege of a lifetime to 
have this magnificent creature 
choose me for sharing an invaluable 
lesson. I can only imagine the look of 
amazement George and I must have 
had on our faces feeling as though we 
were staring into this whale's soul. I 
do recall that I could see the reflection 
of our boat in the whale's eye — 
which quickly put into perspective 
my true place in this humbling situa- 

tion. I was merely a guest here, and I 
was able to share in an unbelievable 
gift that one experiences only on the 

It seemed just a blink of an eye, 
and they gracefully dove away. 
George and I sat there speechless, 
watching them descend into the cold 
and clear water, feeling that we were 
truly honored. 

Please remember that marine 
mammals are susceptible to severe 
injury from propeller strikes and that 
harassing marine mammals is illegal 
under the Marine Mammal Protec- 
tion Act. Furthermore, boats can sus- 
tain extensive damage and boaters 
can be injured by collisions with 
these mammals. Slow down if you 
see or suspect their presence in the 

Until next month and as always: 
Be Responsible, Be Safe, and Have 
Fun! n 

Tom Guess, U. S. Coast Guard (Ret.), serves as 
a stntrivide coordinator for the Boating Safety 
Education Program at the DGIF. 

AUGUST 2010 


by Ken and Maria Perrotte 

Edible Bait 

Many favored baits for both salt- and freshwater fish 
also find themselves gracing dining tables world- 
wide, served as delicacies, as holiday and party favorites, 
or as basic staples of life. 

Dining on insects and worms — considered exotic by 
Westeni standards — is fairly commonplace in many parts 
of Asia and Africa. Intentionally consuming bugs, insects, 
and worms is a practice known as entomophagy. 

Those crickets and grasshoppers you use to catch 
bluegill make, supposedly, tasty and crunchy dry roasted 
snacks. Dip them in chocolate for extra panache or crush 
and blend with cookie dough for "chocolate chirp" cook- 

Earthworms and mealworms are bait favorites world- 
wide. According to a recipe for "Earthworm Chow" at, boiled and then baked into an onion and 
mushroom sauce they are great served over noodles. 
Whether store bought as food or gathered in the wild, 
make sure any worms are purged for a few days before 

Many saltwater baits, such as shrimp, are obvious din- 
ing favorites. Squid makes delicious calamari. Chowder 
clams cut into strips are popular bait for some saltwater 
species. Smaller clams can be smoked or steamed, among 
other cooking styles. 

Then there's crawfish, common bait for many species 
and the inspiration behind countless soft plastic and crank 
bait lures. Ken could eat crawfish ettoufee once a week, 
and a good old crawfish boil is a party waiting to happen. 

No matter which bait you choose to cook, look for 
things labeled /or human consumption. The stuff sold specif- 
ically for bait doesn't always make the grade. Here are a 
few non-exotic, safe bets. 

Bacon-wrapped Chicken Livers (not just for catfish) 
48 wooden toothpicks 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
Vi pound chicken livers, cleaned and cut in half 

or large bite-sized pieces 
Vi pound bacon slices, cut in half 
Vi teaspoon cracked black pepper 

Soak toothpicks in water. Cook bacon until limp (a minute 
or two in the microwave works). Saute livers in oil until 
lightly browned. Season with pepper and wrap with 
bacon, securing with toothpick. Bake at 425° until bacon 

and livers are thoroughly cooked (about 10 or 15 min.). If 
desired, water chestnuts or jalapefio pepper sUces can be 
wrapped with the livers. 

Makes 4 dozen, but recipe can easily be adapted to 
yield any number. 

Steamed Clams with White Wine Dipping Sauce 

3 dozen clams, washed 

5 tablespoons butter, divided 

1 clove of garlic, chopped 

Vi teaspoon white pepper 

1 tablespoon dry white wine 

Vi teaspoon chopped parsley 

Make sure clams are cleaned well with no grit outside. 
Cleaning with a potato brush under cold, running water 
works well. Add about an inch of water to a pot with a tight 
fitting lid and bring to a boil. Add the clams and steam just 
until they open. 

While clams are steaming, saute chopped garlic in 2 ta- 
blespoons of butter until soft. Don't allow the garlic or but- 
ter to brown. Add white pepper, parsley, and white wine. 
Simmer for 2 minutes; then add about 2 tablespoons of liq- 
uid from the steaming pot, being careful not to incorporate 
any grit that may be at the bottom of the pot. Simmer a few 
more minutes and add the rest of the butter, stirring to melt 
it. Discard any clams that don't open, and arrange others 
on a platter. Pour the dipping sauce into a cup and serve. 

Fried Calamari (try the tentacles!) 

1 pound fresh squid (tubes and tentacles), 

rinsed and sliced about Vi inch wide 
1 cup buttermilk 
1 '/2 cups flour (all purpose) 

1 teaspoon each, salt and black pepper 
IVi teaspoons paprika 
Vi teaspoon cayenne pepper 
Vegetable oil 

Mix flour and seasonings, soak squid in buttermilk and 
dredge in seasoned flour. Heat about V2 inch of oil in frying 
pan. Fry calamari for 3 or 4 minutes until golden brown. 
Do not overcook or calamari will get tough. Drain on paper 
towels and serve with a spicy marinara sauce. Or, get ad- 
venturous and Google "calamari dipping sauce." There's 
no shortage of options, from Asian to Greek. Just adjust the 
spices in the batter to those in the dipping sauce. D 




Legacy Hunting or Fishing License 

* The Legacy hunting or fishing license is issued 
only to an individual who is younger than two 
years of age and is valid for the lifetime of the 
license holder regardless of any change in 
that person's status as a resident or nonresi- 

♦ The LegacylHW!|fcnse is valid until the 
individual's twelfth birthday. Upon proof of 
completion ofahuntereducation course or 
equivalent, this license is transferable to a 
lifetime hunting license at no additional 

•* The Legacy hunting or fishing license is avail- 
able by application through the Richmond 
office or by mail.The cost is $ 1 25 for resident 
children and $250 for nonresident children. 


The Virgin la 
Birding and Wildlife 
Trail Guide 

Provides information on the 
nation's first statewide 
wildlife viewing trail all in 
one convenient book. This 
400-pg. color publication 
provides information on 
over 670 sites with updat- 
ed maps, detailed driving 
directions, and contact in- 
formation for each site 



Canvas Tote Bag 

This attractive bag 
makes a great tote for 
groceries, picnic 
items, or camera and 
field guides. Show 
your support for the 
Virginia Birding and 
Wildlife Trail with this 
reinforced cotton can- 
vas blue and tan bag. 
Measures 14x5x13" 
and includes FREE SHIPPING 
to thank you for your support. 


Price $12.95 

*NEW* Birder's Journal 

Become a budding naturalist by recording your bird sightings 
and outdoor observations in this handsome leather-bound 
journal. Includes a complete list of Virginia birds at the front; 
measures 10V4 x 7". FREE SHIPPING to thank you for sup- 
porting wildlife conservation and the Virginia Birding and 


Price $22.95 

To Order visit the Department's website at: or call (804) 367-2569. 
Please allow 3 to 4 weeks for delivery. 

Visit www, 


As always, the calendar 
features spectacular 
photography and useful 
information to the outdoors 
enthusiast, including 
wildlife behavior, hunting 
seasons,favorable hunting 
and fishing times, state fish 
records, and more 

Quantities Are Limited^ 
So Order Yours Today. 

Make your check payable to 
"Treasurer of Virginia" and 
send to: 

Virginia Wildlife Calendar 
P.O. Box 1 1 1 04 
Richmond, VA 23230-1104 

To pay by VISA or MasterCard, 
you may order online at 

on our secure site. 
I'lease allow 4 to 6 weeks 
tor delivery. 


©Denver Bryan